Georgia Hosts 112th Session of UNWTO

The 112th session of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) took place on September 15-17 in Tbilisi.

Following the official opening on the 16th, on September 17, a discussion of the investment climate was held, after which the delegation visited Tsinandali in Georgia's Kakheti region.

The event will be attended by representatives of Romania, Spain, Greece, and other countries, and safety measures will be strictly observed,” Head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration, Mariam Kvrivishvili stated prior to the event. “All attending delegates will undergo PSR testing and the event will be held with the full involvement of Georgian epidemiologists and under strict supervision.”

Kvrivishvili emphasized that the fact the UNWTO selected Georgia as the host country once again confirms that it still remains a 'green zone' amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Due to the importance of the event, representatives of such influential media outlets as the New York Times, BBC Travel, Euronews, Spanish Forbes, EFE News, Diplomat, and others will come to Georgia. Consequently, Georgia will once again be in the focus of the world press as a country safe from the pandemic, where the UNWTO is holding its first post-pandemic high-level meeting," she said.

"I'm glad that Georgia has become the most distinguished, representative meeting place of the tourism sector," Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia stated in his speech at the opening ceremony. “Georgia and the World Tourism Organization are connected by many years of successful cooperation, which is becoming more and more fruitful. It is very important for us that this session is held for the first time outside the borders of Spain, and that it is taking place precisely in Georgia.”

The session hosted by Georgia is the first event with an unprecedentedly high level of representation in the post-pandemic world. It is usually held biannually in Madrid. In 2020, however, its organizers made an unprecedented decision to choose Tbilisi instead of Madrid as the venue for this year’s Executive Council Session.

“Tourism is one of the sectors that suffered the greatest damage worldwide as a result of the spread of the pandemic. However, while the Georgian tourism sector was also damaged during the crisis period, in previous years, Georgia was one of the world leaders in terms of tourism development and, most importantly, the tourism sector formed 8.1 percent of the country's economy,” Gakharia said. “In 2019 alone, Georgia received a record number of international travelers: 9.4 million visitors, which, of course, is a great success for a country of 3.7 million.”

The Prime Minister said that from the outset, Georgia set two main goals in the fight against the global pandemic: The protection of the health and the lives of its citizens, and the survival of its economy.

“We are actively developing infrastructure in Georgia which stimulates rapid economic growth and the development of the country, as well as the development of the tourism sector. In addition, we facilitate the raising of awareness of the country through active campaigns and international events; we ensure the improvement of the quality of service; the creation of a safe and favorable environment in the country; and the promotion of employment in the tourism sector. We also work to create new tourism products and facilitate new direct flights which, of course, contributes to the integration of the country's economy into the global economy, as well as the development of the tourism network,” the PM noted.

He went on to note that tourism has played one of the main roles in the government's Anti-Crisis Plan, and it will continue to do so until global tourism recovery trends begin to emerge. “We supported the tourism sector and will continue to do so with various programs, benefits, tax deferrals, and other instruments,” Gakharia emphasized.

“Further, Georgia has managed to keep the status of a green country,” he added. “Today, Georgia is one of the safest destinations in the international arena, and that enables us to launch a new post-pandemic phase of the country’s economic development. One of the most important global events in the post-crisis period will involve strong emphasis on reviving tourism, and we want to be pioneers in this process.”

17 September 2020 15:57